Communication and collaboration

Communication is the key to a great Co-Teaching Partnership. It is like throwing a ball. The purpose is to learn how well others catch information and throw it back. We develop and build relationships by practicing chit chat, e.g., what is your name, where do you live, what are your hobbies, etc. But there are levels of communication beyond chit chat.

As relationships develop and deeper communication is desired, discussing an issue becomes more like tossing a slippery egg. Be careful not to:

  • Save them for a long time and hurl them!
  • Throw them hard and fast because you cannot hold on to those slippery eggs!
  • Avoid the person so that you do not have to toss those slippery eggs.
  • Wrap those slippery eggs with so many layers of expectations and apologies that no one is sure you have tossed them.

Try to recognize when you have the slippery egg and toss it with great care and understanding, being assertive enough to communicate your issues. Always watch body language and tell the truth in a caring manner.

How do you "throw your slippery eggs"?

The following activity presents different role play scenarios for cooperating teachers and teacher candidates.

The cooperating pair, a CT and TC, should work together and take turns discussing the following scenarios. Both CT and TC will have two opportunities to role play different scenarios.

Round 1: cooperating teacher leads

Read the following scenario (don't let your TC peek) and discuss it right now with your TC…

Tardiness

Your teacher candidate is continuously tardy to school.
Address this issue and solve the problem.

Round 2: teacher candidate leads

Read the following scenario (don't let your CT peek) and discuss it right now with your CT…

New ideas

Your cooperating teacher is not allowing you to try new ideas or ways of doing things.
Address this issue and solve the problem.

Round 3: cooperating teacher leads

Read the following scenario (don't let your TC peek) and discuss it right now with your TC…

Co-teaching strategies

Your teacher candidate is reluctant to try all the co-teaching strategies.
Address this issue and solve the problem.

Round 4: teacher candidate leads

Read the following scenario (don't let your CT peek) and discuss it right now with your CT…

Co-planning time

Your cooperating teacher does not use co-planning time to work with you.
Address this issue and solve the problem.

Collaboration Self-Assessment Tool (CSAT)

It is often assumed that people know how to collaborate. However, collaboration skills are rarely identified, let alone taught. When collaborative efforts become strained or are successful, it is important to evaluate our own role in the process. There is a difference between cooperation and collaboration. Collaboration is a philosophy of interactions with the focus on the process of working together; cooperation stresses the product of such work (Myers, 1991).

Below is a self-assessment worksheet.  It will help you reflect on and evaluate your own collaboration skills. The beauty of this self-assessment tool is that we can identify the areas in which we can improve in an effort to become better collaborators. (You do not have to share your scores with your partner.)

Please take some time to complete Collaboration Self-Assessment worksheet (opens new window) (MS Excel). Make sure you save the file to your desktop before entering your responses.

When finished, consider the following:

  • What have you learned about yourself by completing this rubric?
  • When collaboration is ineffective, the following issues are often voiced to justify the situation:
    1. Personal style
    2. Size of the group
    3. Designated role in the group (facilitator, recorder, etc.)
    4. Group history

We challenge you to ask yourself: What is at the heart of these issues? Could citing these variables possibly be a smoke screen to hide the fact that you are not using skills needed for successful collaboration?

Working across generations

Often, Cooperating Teachers and Teacher Candidates are from different generations, and these generational differences can help explain both varying world views and attitudes toward the workplace. More information in Working Across Generations (opens new window) (PDF)

Tips on how to work together across generations:

  • Be aware of differences
  • Appreciate the strengths
  • Manage the differences

Next: Co-Teaching Planning

Previous: Student Teaching Triad

© 2012, St. Cloud State University. Used with permission by the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities’ Office of Teacher Education (OTE) for the CEHD Partner Network